Comparing Canada’s Startup Visa And Portugal’s Golden Visa Programs


In today’s globalized world, many countries offer visa programs to attract investors, entrepreneurs, and skilled professionals. Two such programs that have garnered significant attention are the Canada Startup Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa. Both programs offer unique opportunities for immigrant entrepreneurs, but how do they stack up against each other? For a more comprehensive look at global investment options and detailed insights into various golden visa and citizenship programs, visit the Global Residence Index.

In this article, we’ll delve deep into the specifics of each program, comparing their benefits, requirements, and more.

The decision to immigrate is a significant one, often driven by the desire for better opportunities, a higher quality of life, or the pursuit of entrepreneurial dreams. Both Canada and Portugal have recognized the potential of attracting global talent and have introduced visa programs tailored to provide both investors and entrepreneurs. But which one is right for you? Let’s dive in.

What Are They?

Canada Startup Visa

Canada’s Startup Visa program is designed to develop and attract innovative entrepreneurs who have the potential to build businesses that are competitive on a global scale. The program offers:

  • Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must have a qualifying business, obtain a commitment from a designated entity, and meet language and settlement fund requirements.
  • Purpose: The primary goal is to foster innovation and create jobs for Canadians.

For a detailed guide on the Canada Startup Visa, check out this comprehensive article.

Portugal Golden Visa

Portugal’s Golden Visa program, on the other hand, is a residency-by-investment immigration scheme. It allows non-EU nationals to obtain residency in Portugal through various types of investments, including real estate, capital transfer, and job creation.

  • Eligibility Criteria: The criteria vary based on the type of investment chosen. For instance, a real estate purchase of €500,000 or more qualifies an individual for the program.
  • Purpose: The program aims to attract foreign investment and boost the Portuguese economy.

For a complete breakdown of the Portugal Golden Visa, including the new rules for the year 2023, visit this link.

Investment Requirements

Understanding the investment requirements is crucial when considering any visa program. Let’s compare the investment specifics for both the Canada Startup Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa.

Canada Startup Visa

Types of Investments:

  • Designated Entity: Applicants must secure a commitment from a designated entity (venture capital fund, angel investor group, or business incubator).
  • Investment Amount: The amount varies based on the type of designated entity:
    • Venture capital fund: Minimum investment of CAD $200,000.
    • Angel investor group: Minimum investment of CAD $75,000.
    • Business incubator: No minimum investment required, but must be accepted into the incubator program.

Portugal Golden Visa

Types of Investments:

  • Real Estate: Purchase property worth at least €500,000. Reduced to €280,000 if located in low-density areas. Important note: This option is about to end
  • Capital Transfer: Transfer of €1 million or more to Portugal.
  • Job Creation: Create at least 10 jobs in Portugal.
  • Research Activities: Invest a minimum of €350,000 in research activities.
  • National Heritage: Invest €250,000 or more in the conservation of national heritage.

It’s essential to note that the investment requirements for the Portugal Golden Visa can vary based on changes in government regulations and specific investment areas.


Both visa programs offer a range of benefits, from residency rights to business advantages. Let’s delve into the specifics start up visa here.

Canada Startup Visa

Residency and Citizenship Pathways:

  • Immediate permanent residency for the primary applicant and family members.
  • Eligibility for Canadian citizenship after fulfilling residency requirements.

Business Advantages:

  • Access to Canada’s robust startup ecosystem.
  • Support from designated entities in scaling and growing the business.

Portugal Golden Visa

Residency and Citizenship Pathways:

  • Temporary residency with the option to renew.
  • Eligibility for permanent residency after five years.
  • Option to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years of legal residency.

Tax Benefits:

  • Potential to benefit from Portugal’s Non-Habitual Tax (NHR) Regime, offering tax reductions or exemptions on certain income types.

Family Inclusion

Both visa programs recognize the importance of family and offer provisions for family members to qualify to be included.

Canada Startup Visa

Who can be included?

  • Spouse or common-law partner
  • Dependent children (under the age of 22, unless they meet specific criteria for dependents over 22)

Portugal Golden Visa

Who can be included?

  • Spouse or legal partner
  • Dependent children
  • Dependent parents (of either the main applicant or spouse)
  • Siblings under the guardianship of the main applicant

Application Process

Navigating the application process can be challenging. Here’s a brief overview of what to expect:

Canada Startup Visa

Steps and Timeline:

  1. Obtain a commitment from a designated entity.
  2. Apply for permanent residence.
  3. If approved, receive a Confirmation of Permanent Residence and visa (if applicable).
  4. Arrive in Canada and start your business.

Portugal Golden Visa

Steps and Timeline:

  1. Choose and make the qualifying investment.
  2. Gather required documents and apply.
  3. Attend a biometrics appointment in Portugal.
  4. Receive approval and obtain a temporary residence card.
  5. Renew the card as needed.

Latest Developments and the Future of Each Program

Both Canada and Portugal are making significant changes to their respective visa programs to attract a specific type of immigrant entrepreneur. While Canada is focusing on attracting tech talent and entrepreneurs from countries like the U.S., Portugal is shifting its focus from real estate investments to other forms of investments. These changes reflect the evolving needs and strategies of each country as they compete in the global market for talent and investment.

Recent Context on Canada’s Startup Visa:

  • The United States has been losing immigrants and international students to Canada. This trend has been attributed to Canada’s startup visa policy, which has encouraged immigrants in the U.S. to move to Canada.
  • In July 2023, Canada’s program to attract H-1B visa holders was so popular that it reached its 10,000 application limit in less than 48 hours.
  • A study by Britta Glennon and Saerom Lee of the University of Pennsylvania revealed that Canada’s Start-up Visa Program, introduced in 2013, elevated the preferences of U.S.-based immigrants (starting a business in Canada) by a massive 69%.
  • Immigrants from Asian countries to the U.S. were found to be the most likely to start a business in Canada, especially in response to the startup visa policy.
  • Unlike Canada, the U.S. does not have a startup visa, which means foreign nationals typically do not start businesses in the U.S. until they become permanent residents.

Portugal Golden Visa Recent Developments:

  • On October 6th, 2023, the Portuguese Government introduced the “Mais Habitação Law,” which brought significant changes to the Golden Visa program in Portugal.
  • With the new law, investments under the real estate categories of the Golden Visa Program are no longer possible. This means you can’t invest in real estate property or a real estate-related fund and apply for a Golden Visa in Portugal.
  • The new law does not apply retroactively, so previous or current applicants will not be affected.
  • While some investment avenues, such as real estate acquisition, are closing, others are opening. The residency program will continue with new and revised investment options like Venture Capital Fund Investment, Job Creation, Research Funding, Cultural Heritage Support, and Commercial Company Investment.

Choosing between the Canada Startup Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa depends on an entrepreneur’ individual preferences, investment capabilities, and long-term goals. Both programs offer unique opportunities and benefits. While the Canada Startup Visa is tailored for entrepreneurs looking to launch startups in a thriving ecosystem, the Portugal Golden Visa offers a broader range of investment options and the allure of European residency.

Before using money or making a decision, it’s essential to conduct thorough research, consult with experts, and consider personal and financial circumstances.

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